When we requested topic suggestions from readers, Steve at Michigan Public Radio asked us to comment on the use of branding products in fundraising. His words: “Pros/cons of not using premiums in your fundraising campaigns (I know this might be a touchy subject for you).”
This is not touchy at all. It’s fun to discuss whether fundraising premiums, (also called contribution incentives) can attract gift income that you would not otherwise receive – and whether that result is worth the effort and cost. (We’d love to have readers contribute to the discussion by posting their own views and experiences in the “Comment” section.)
It’s a big topic. We’ll cover it in several installments. First – a list of the Pros & Cons. Subsequent posts will get into more interesting terrain – how those pros and cons relate to fundraising dynamics of an affinity market. We’ll have plenty of examples to offer in those posts, and we hope to respond to questions and challenges from readers as we go along – so send us your thoughts in the “Comments” box.
Let’s start with the negatives – they are pretty persuasive:
- Premiums can be expensive.
- They haven’t been as effective in attracting first time gifts as they have been with renewals and upgrades.
- If used incorrectly, premiums won’t raise extra money. They may not even pay for themselves.
- Unfortunately, many nonprofits do not use them correctly. This group includes some of our clients!
- Premiums can be a pain in the neck to store, to package and to ship to contributors.
- Selecting premiums can be intimidating. And confusing. There are so many promotional products it can be difficult to make an informed selection. (One reason this blog exists.)
- Before the fundraiser it is tough to predict how many units to order. Some nonprofits order too many and end up with extra products they don’t need.
- After the fundraiser it is easy to tabulate results and order the exact quantity needed. But if the premium is custom-imprinted with your logo, production time adds a several week delay before the promised incentive gets to your contributor. (This is an important consideration because satisfaction delayed is satisfaction diminished.)
- The print space, broadcast time, visuals and messaging used to present the premium to the potential contributor can distract from the solicitation message itself.
- Products with the logo of an affinity-organization build its visibility, reinforce its market niche and enhance brand loyalty of supporters who own them.
- These premiums are badges of membership in a nonprofit’s community of support – badges that are gratefully received and proudly used by your affinity market. Thus – they attract revenue.
This is where the energy originates: as the value of your mission increases in the eyes of a supporter, so does the likelihood that the person will want to own evidence of affinity. To that constituent, it seems like a perfectly reasonable step to renew a contribution or upgrade to a higher contribution level to acquire an attractive premium with the desired logo.
That’s the Pro & Con roster. Two persuasive Pros. Nine persuasive Cons. (Maybe others that I didn’t think of – so remind me.) Watch for the next installment on this topic. It will post on May 31. That is where we will get into the real substance of this important topic.
In a perfect world your mission would attract all the revenue you need.
But this is not a perfect world! That’s why many nonprofits use fundraising premiums to attract additional revenue. Many have learned to do it economically and productively. Many – but not all. The Nonprofit Branding Blog is one way we share lessons we have learned with those who want to become more adept at ordering and using promotional branding products as contributor incentives and as marketing tools. If you want to validate our background so you know whether we have enough experience to assist your organization, click on the “ABOUT” tab at the top of this page.